Punjab’s COVID death rate 2.36 times more than national average — even higher than its neighbours.
With 12 COVID-19 deaths till Saturday evening of a total of 158 patients testing positive, Punjab’s rate of death stands at 7.59 per cent. This is 2.36 times more than the national average of 3.21 per cent.
A day earlier, on Thursday, it was 2.67 times more than the national average at 7.69 per cent. Over the past few days, it has touched 10 per cent also.
Overall, 242 deaths have been reported across the country against total 7,529 patients testing positive for coronavirus.
Neighbouring Haryana has a far lesser death rate at 1.22 per cent. Similarly, Delhi’s death rate too has been 1.4 per cent. Another neighbour Himachal Pradesh has recorded one death against 28 positive cases, which a rate of 3.5 per cent.
Late testing a problem
In Punjab, four cases out of 12 were confirmed as coronavirus positive after the death of the patient. These four patients who tested positive after their deaths died as they were brought to the hospital in the later stage of the COVID-19.
This included the first 70-year-old patient from Banga in Punjab, who had died of cardiac arrest and samples were taken only after he had died. He tested positive.
In another case, a 42-year-old migrant woman from Ludhiana passed away at Patiala due to acute respiratory distress. She also tested positive after her death. A housewife from Kharar also tested positive after her death.
A 55-year-old woman from Barnala also passed away at Ludhiana’s private hospital on Wednesday evening. She tested positive on Thursday.
There were other cases of late detection too. The death of a Padma Shri Hazuri Raagi in Amritsar raised several questions as he also did not have a travel history and he died in the hospital a day after he was admitted and tested positive. Another woman from Ludhiana, who had visited her relatives in Mohali, too was detected late and she passed away of the disease.
Experts are of the view that if testing is scaled up and done at the right time, COVID-19 patients could be saved and death rate would go down. This could also help spread of the disease. Punjab has already ramped up testing, but it is still waiting for the Rapid Testing Kits to arrive after having placed an order to private suppliers as well as ICMR. But it has not been able to roll out mass and random testing.
Punjab is far behind Kerala, the state having the highest rate of 276 tests per million population. As per the report compiled by the state government, Punjab has ramped up testing. From 13 tests per million population conducted on March 24, to 102 tests per million population on April 7, the state has recorded an increase of over 220 per cent.
Still, testing is only 0.0004 per cent of Punjab’s 2.77 crore population as per the 2011 census. Till Saturday, Punjab had conducted 3,909 tests in which 158 persons were reported positive for COVID-19 and results of 502 tests were awaited.
Scaling up testing
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has said that they would start random testing by Monday or Tuesday in the hotspots as 25,000 rapid testing kits were expected to reach the state. The state has purchased five additional RTPCR and 4 RNA extraction
machines and has installed in two of its VRDL (Viral Research Diagnostic Lab) labs situated at Government Medical Colleges, Patiala and Amritsar. Now, the capacity of each lab to conduct the sample testing of suspected COVID-19 suspects has been increase from existing 40 tests per day to 400 tests per day. In total, these two labs would be able to conduct 800 tests per day as against existing capacity of 80 tests per day, D K Tiwari, Principal Secretary Medical Education and Research, said.
He said that initially the capacity of these labs was only up to 40 samples daily. However, looking at the emergency situation, additional 5 RTPCR machines have been purchased with the total expenditure of Rs 1.6 crore with this now we have total 8 RTPCR machines in the state
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